Hot Springs is a funky little town of hand-painted signs and potholed streets, tucked into a cul-de-sac of low Montana mountains. Lots of visitors swear by the local waters' therapeutic qualities, especially as a palliative for arthritis. Situated southwest of Polson, just off Mont. 28, the tiny community is about 1 1/2 hours from Flathead Lake.

The 1928 Symes Hotel, 209 Wall St. (tel. 888/305-3106 or 406/741-2361;, is a vaguely pink, Alamo-like structure that aspires to be Art Deco. You can rent rooms or just tubs in stalls that can be filled with the famous waters. Some rooms have their own tubs, and there are two small pools and a large soaking tub outside ($7 adult). Rooms run from $49 to $133 a night, in a bewildering combination of options (you get claw-foot tubs and the occasional TV, but no phones). There's also a day spa, a yoga studio, and a restaurant on the property. A funky 1935 motel with housekeeping apartments, Alameda's Hot Springs Retreat, 308 N. Spring St. (tel. 406/741-2283;, is a better option. Many of its rooms have soaking tubs; rates range from $45 to $75, including continental breakfast.

Wild Horse Hot Springs (tel. 406/741-3777), 5 miles northeast of town, offers a rather primitive soak in blue concrete tubs. This place is located several miles down a dirt road. The private rooms are each outfitted with a "plunge" (private pool), toilet, shower, steam room, and furniture that your grandmother would have found old-fashioned. But some people swear by the place and come back every year. There are only two kitchenette rooms to sleep in here, priced at $75 to $95 a night. A soak costs $6 an hour per person.

For more information, contact the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 580, Hot Springs, MT 59845 (tel. 406/741-2662;

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.